- The car: Volvo XC40 D4 First Edition
- Run by: Steve Huntingford, editor
- Why it’s here: To see if this class-leading family SUV has any flaws that weren’t obvious when we group-tested it against rivals
- Needs to: Offer outstanding comfort and practicality, a quality interior and low running costs
Price £39,905 Price as tested £39,905 Miles 1246 Official economy 56.5mpg Test economy 34.8mpg Options fitted None
3 May 2018 – the Volvo XC40 joins our fleet
Volvo may be synonymous with estates, but it’s actually SUVs that the brand tends to be best at. Its first, the original XC90, showed that families looking for a seven-seater didn’t need to buy a boxy MPV; the smaller XC60 that followed six years later was the most comfortable car of its kind; and Volvo's latest, the XC40, is so impressive that we named it our overall Car of the Year at the 2018 What Car? Awards.
Small wonder, then, that the XC40 has been a huge hit. Indeed, demand is outstripping supply to such an extent that if you order one now, you won’t get it until January 2019.
Can the XC40 really be good enough, though, to make it worth you joining such a long queue, especially when just about every other manufacturer sells a similar-sized SUV these days? Well, to answer that question we’ve added an XC40 to our long-term fleet. Over the next few months I’ll be using it primarily for family duties and my daily commute, and seeing if it still manages to feel as special as it did when we first group tested it against its key rivals.
The model we’ve gone for is the D4 diesel with standard four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, because that is our current pick of the range.
What’s more, our XC40 is in the limited-run First Edition spec, which is based on Volvo’s sporty R-Design trim but brings a host of extra equipment. This includes wireless smartphone charging, a Harmon Kardon stereo, heated rear seats, a powered tailgate and a Pilot Assist system, which combines adaptive cruise control with steering assistance to allow semi-autonomous driving.
In addition, all XC40s come with clever safety tech, such as traffic sign recognition and an oncoming lane mitigation system, which can intervene if you inadvertently cross a road's centre line into the path of oncoming traffic.
The downside of going for the First Edition is that it pushes the price up to almost £40,000. However, it would cost a lot more than that if you just equipped an R-Design car to the same level by ticking boxes on the options list. And the interior of the XC40 is so classy that it feels every inch a £40k car.
Material quality is particularly impressive; for me, it surpasses anything in the XC40's rivals. Meanwhile, the standard digital instruments and 9.0in tablet-style touchscreen infotainment interface add to the wow factor.
True, we’ve previously criticised this screen for being fiddly and distracting to use while driving. But having recently spoken to a Volvo salesman who insisted that it's only meant to be used for “setting up preferences while stationary” and that you can then operate everything via the steering wheel buttons or voice control, I’m looking forward to trying the system over an extended period.
Hopefully, covering thousands of miles in the car will also enable me to improve on the 35.4mpg that a brand-new D4-engined XC40 averaged when we put it through our real-world, True MPG fuel economy test.
And as someone who has previously questioned whether SUVs are really any more practical than traditional family saloons, I’m looking forward to assessing this with the help of my young daughter and all the paraphernalia that an outing with her generally requires.
What I can already say after just a couple of weeks with the car is that it’s wonderfully relaxing on the motorway, thanks to minimal wind and engine noise and the way the suspension manages to waft you over most imperfections in the road surface at higher speeds. Plus, the seats are some of the best around, offering far more support than those in the rival BMW X2, which we also have on our long-term test fleet.
Add in the fact that the XC40 is such a looker that I find myself admiring every morning, and it’s safe to say that my early impressions are very positive. But the biggest tests are still to come.
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